Nonfiction of the highest caliber: fascinating and thorough, but never sycophantic or overly familiar.

THE OPEN ROAD

THE GLOBAL JOURNEY OF THE XIVTH DALAI LAMA

Prolific travel writer, journalist and novelist Iyer (Sun After Dark: Flights Into the Foreign, 2004, etc.) turns his judicious eye on the 14th Dalai Lama, with whom he has been acquainted for more than 30 years.

As a 17-year-old, the author traveled with his father into the Indian mountains and was introduced to the Dalai Lama, an encounter that struck him as a profound departure from the real world. The book takes its title from D.H. Lawrence, who once declared the open road to be “the great home of the Soul.” The most iconic Tibetan in the world has devoted his adult life to travel and encounters with strangers. The only Dalai Lama ever to have been outside of Tibet, he finds every door open to him, it seems, except the one that would welcome him back to the Chinese-occupied country of his birth. Described by the author as a “hyperrealist,” the Dalai Lama resides in the present moment more fully than in any geographical location. Iyer’s study includes a first-person account of interactions with his subject, as well as an incisive analysis of the modern relevance of Tibetan Buddhism and its leader. His portrait is entirely human, offering vignettes that convey multiple dimensions of the Dalai Lama’s personality, from his sense of humor and distinctive laughter to his political views and, in the words of Iyer’s father, “the freshness of [his] immense personal purity.” Questions about reality, existence, reincarnation and idolatry make this book resonate as an examination into subjects more substantial than one man’s life—the values that the Dalai Lama imparts have global reach and consequences.

Nonfiction of the highest caliber: fascinating and thorough, but never sycophantic or overly familiar.

Pub Date: April 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-307-26760-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more